Virat Kohli stands firm to frustrate New Zealand as India dig in


irat Kohli led a battling effort from India‘s batsmen as they tussled with New Zealand for control of the inaugural World Test Championship final at the Ageas Bowl.

The winner-takes-all showpiece finally got into its stride on day two after Friday’s washout, with India reaching 143 for three, but an intriguing contest was not allowed to play to its natural conclusion as the last of three separate breaks for bad light brought an early conclusion after 64.4 overs.

The picture could easily have been worse for India had they faltered under the kind of stiff examination that downed England at Edgbaston last week, but Kohli shepherded his side through with a resolute 44 not out from 124 deliveries.

His hunger to occupy the stage had already been in evidence when he remonstrated with the match officials during a curious incident when he was still on 17.

Kiwi captain Kane Williamson allowed the DRS clock to run down following a big appeal for caught behind off Trent Boult, only for umpire Richard Illingworth to refer the decision himself. Having effectively abdicated responsibility for a verdict of his own, he offered a sheepish ‘soft signal’ in the bowler’s favour.

That was promptly overturned, the right verdict as UltraEdge showed no contact, but the drama around every potential Kohli dismissal was once again in full evidence.

The day began under ominously leaden skies, Williamson enthusiastically asking India to bat first only to be repaid by a sloppy first hour from his new-ball bankers, Boult and Tim Southee.

In English conditions that batsmen dread the Kiwis allowed 41 runs in the first hour, with Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill only prevented from doing further damage by a sluggish outfield.

New Zealand were dragged back by Kyle Jamieson, who settled instantly into a troubling line and length and walked off in the evening with immaculate figures of 14-9-14-1.

Gill wore one vicious lifter in the helmet, while the dangerous Rohit (34) simply lost patience and nicked an outswinger to the diving Southee. After 20 overs and 62 runs scored, it was a much-needed breakthrough.

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